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UW Images on the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Shortlist

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Since 1965, the Natural History Museum, London has celebrated the best in animal-based photography the Wildlife photographer of Year competition - including some stunning underwater images. Here are selection of some of 2017’s finalists - the winners will be announced next month

Swim gym Laurent Ballesta Wildlife Photographer of the Year copy

SWIM GYM (Laurent Ballesta, France): It was early spring in Antarctica, and a Weddell seal mother was introducing her pup to the icy water. The world’s most southerly breeding mammal, a Weddell seal gives birth on the ice and takes her pup swimming after a week or two. ‘They looked so at ease, whereas I felt so inappropriate,’ says Ballesta. Relying on light through the ice above, he captured the curious gaze of the pup, the arc of its body mirroring that of its watchful mother.

Romance among the angels Andrey Narchuk Wildlife Photographer of the Year copy

ROMANCE AMONG THE ANGELS (Andrey Narchuk, Russia): Narchuk was on an expedition to the Sea of Okhotsk in the Russian Far East, intending to photograph salmon. But as soon as he jumped into the water, he found himself surrounded by thousands of mating sea angels. Quickly swapping to his macro equipment while battling against strong currents and avoiding a wall of gill netting, he began photographing the 3cm long pairs swirling around him.

Sewage surfer Justin Hofman Wildlife Photographer of the Year copy

SEWAGE SURFER (Justin Hofman, USA): Seahorses hitch rides on the currents by grabbing floating objects with their delicate prehensile tails. Hofman watched as this tiny creature ‘hopped’ from one bit of debris to the next, bobbing around near the surface on a reef near Sumbawa Island, Indonesia. As a brisk wind picked up, making conditions bumpier, the seahorse took advantage of something that offered a more stable raft – a waterlogged plastic cotton bud.

The insiders Qing Lin Wildlife Photographer of the Year copy

THE INSIDERS (Qing Lin, China): While diving in the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia, Lin noticed something strange about this cohabiting group of anemonefish. Each had an extra pair of eyes inside its mouth – those of a parasitic isopod. An isopod enters a fish as a larva, via its gills, moves to the fish’s mouth and attaches its legs to the base of the tongue. As the parasite sucks its host’s blood, the tongue withers, leaving the isopod attached, where it may remain for several years.

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